Huey: Spirit of the Panther by David Hilliard | Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Huey: Spirit of the Panther

Huey: Spirit of the Panther

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by David Hilliard, Keith Zimmerman

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Huey P. Newton remains one of the most misunderstood political figures of the twentieth century. As cofounder and leader of the Black Panther Party for more than twenty years, Newton (1942-1989) was at the forefront of the radical political activism of the 1960s and '70s. Raised in poverty in Oakland, California, and named for corrupt Louisiana governor Huey P.


Huey P. Newton remains one of the most misunderstood political figures of the twentieth century. As cofounder and leader of the Black Panther Party for more than twenty years, Newton (1942-1989) was at the forefront of the radical political activism of the 1960s and '70s. Raised in poverty in Oakland, California, and named for corrupt Louisiana governor Huey P. Long, Newton embodied both the passions and the contradictions of the civil rights movement he sought to advance. In this first authorized biography, Newton's former chief of staff David Hilliard teams up with best-selling authors Keith and Kent Zimmerman to tell the whole story of the man behind the organization that FBI director J. Edgar Hoover infamously dubbed "the greatest threat to the internal security of the country."

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Though essentially a civil rights organization, the Black Panther Party continues to evoke images of gun-wielding black men clashing with law enforcement officials. In the first authorized biography written about the Party's founder, Huey Newton (1942-1989), the authors shatter those images by expounding on the ideals upon which the party was formed. Frustrated by the civil rights organizations mired in "intellectualizing and rhetoric," Newton formed the BPP in Oakland, Calif., in 1966. His manifesto called upon blacks to demand freedom, adequate housing and educational opportunities, and to "defend their own people with their lives." Those affiliated with the BPP soon became targets for police surveillance and harassment. According to Hilliard, when Newton realized that the BPP was becoming isolated from the black community, which viewed the organization as an ad hoc military group, he began creating various community "survival programs," among them a student-centered school that attracted international education officials. Newton's dichotomous nature is evident throughout the book, yet only in the last chapters is the extent of his inner turmoil addressed. His cause of death offers proof of this: he denounced drugs yet became addicted to crack and died at the hands of a drug dealer. Hilliard offers a highly readable, if hagiographic, introduction to Newton's life and the BPP's ideology. His own memoir, This Side of Glory (1993), described his years as the BPP's chief of staff. Photos. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
With authors Keith and Kent Zimmerman (Sing My Way Home: Voices of the New American Roots Rock), former Black Panther Party (BPP) chief of staff Hilliard (This Side of Glory, with Lewis Cole) presents an authorized biography of political activist Huey P. Newton. Hilliard knew Newton from childhood, both growing up poor in Oakland, CA. He reminisces about these early years and about Newton's becoming a petty criminal prior to his politicization and his foundation of the BPP in 1966 with Bobby Seale. The book does an excellent job of discussing the inner workings of the BPP and provides a detailed picture of Newton's relationship with Eldridge Cleaver until the two split in 1971. It also covers Newton's frequent run-ins with the law. Newton skipped bail on criminal charges in 1974 and fled to Cuba with the woman who became his first wife, returning to the United States in 1977. The book includes a penultimate chapter narrated by Newton's second wife, Fredrika, who describes her husband's descent into drug abuse, which led to his murder in 1989. The book gives an interesting personal perspective, but for more thorough critical examinations, see Hugh Pearson's The Shadow of the Panther: Huey Newton and the Price of Black Power in America and Judson L. Jeffries's Huey P. Newton: The Radical Theorist. Recommended for academic and public libraries.-Stephen L. Hupp, West Virginia Univ. Lib., Parkersburg Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Rambling take on the life and thoughts of Black Panther Party co-founder Huey P. Newton, by his former "Chief of Staff."Endorsed by Newton's widow as the "first-ever authoritative biography," this latest of many published works on the BPP, including Newton's own, fails to impress. Assisted by the Zimmermans, who did better as coauthors with Sex Pistol Johnny Rotten and Hell's Angel Sonny Barger, Hilliard recalls the early days of the BPP. It's hard to find much new ground being broken here: He emphasizes the impact made by the Panthers, who accused the Oakland Police Force of systematically harassing and murdering African-Americans, and says that their resultant notoriety eventually came to be seen as an impediment by Newton, who had plenty of time to think during a prison stretch after a manslaughter conviction for the killing of a police officer and during a three-year exile in Cuba, to which he fled following charges of assault and the murder of a prostitute. Breaking with race-war agitator Eldridge Cleaver, the Panthers later moved into community support and education programs. While beatifying Newton as a humanitarian thinker in his moments of clarity, the book documents a sordid progression from petty criminality to violence-associated notoriety with an ongoing, family-destroying addiction to drugs and alcohol, complicated by suspected bipolar disorder. Notably missing from the mix are any comments from BPP co-founder Bobby Seale, who has his own website flogging rhetoric and barbecue recipes. Vague, conflicted and almost quaint in its socialist pseudo-seriousness.

Product Details

Basic Books
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Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

As chief of staff of the Black Panther Party, David Hilliard was actively involved in every major activity of the best-recognized and most feared African-American organization of the 1960s and '70s. He is the author of "This Side of Glory," a memoir that tells the story of his involvement in the Black Panthers, and the coeditor, with Don Weise, of "The Huey P. Newton Reader."

Keith and Kent Zimmerman are coauthors of the international best-seller "Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs" with former Sex Pistols frontman Johnny Rotten; "Sing My Way Home: Voices of the New American Roots Rock"; and the New York Times best-seller "Hell's Angel: The Life and Times of Sonny Barger and the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club." The Zimmermans live in Oakland, California.

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Huey: Spirit of the Panther 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Randomly I selected this book from the shelf of my school's library and my God I know it was in my hands for a reason. The book gives a complete rundown of The Black Panther Party including its members, its principles, the mishaps and legalities,Cointelpro, and most significantly, Huey Newton. I am only sixteen years old and I found the book to be extremely powerful,entertaining, and inspirational. This is a great book to read especially for Black people because IT CORRECTS OUR DISTORTED & SEEMINGLY FORSAKEN HISTORY. Trust me, Huey's name IS NOT in my History book! Plus, no one taught me about the many many positive contributions the Party gave. It's up to us to educate ourselves and this book is a start.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best and most truthful documentation of Newton's life since his autobiography "Revolutionary Suicide".